n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Chad's President Déby's manoeuvring for international support - remaking the country's image as regional stabiliser to maintain power - : Central Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 09
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Chad's diversity is a potential source of strength, but in practice it has played a role in decades of tumult. Despite a multitude of prominent ethnic groups and languages and an almost straight split between Islam and other religions, power rests directly in the hands of a small ethnic minority, the Zagawa clan, which is led by President Idriss Déby. Maintaining power for the Zagawa clan has caused the Déby regime to become adept at casting a positive international light to offset Déby's poor internal reputation and ensure survival amid national turmoil. This is because the Zagawa clan represents less than 2% of the total population of Chad, which has led to attempts and ethnic civil wars throughout Déby's term as president of Chad. However, since 2011, Chad has opened its borders to a daily influx of refugees, playing the role of host to people fleeing conflict in Central African Republic (CAR), Nigeria and Sudan, as well as a previous conflict in Libya during the Arab Spring of 2011. This has remade the country's image as one of regional power and stabiliser instead of a country plagued with violence, which forced its own citizens to escape in-fighting, as has been the case in the past. While Déby and Chad's central government have played an active role in escalating these regional conflicts, they have managed to emerge as a leader in the region by solidifying relationships with powerful Western allies and garnering support and sympathy for absorbing so many refugees.

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